Greece, Cyprus and communities from both nations around the worldare celebrating ‘Oxi Day’ today, October 28, which commemorates the rejection by Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas to the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on this day in 1940.
76 years ago, Greece staged a counter-attack against the invading Italian forces on the Pindus mountains during the Greco-Italian War, and the Greek Resistance during the Axis occupation.
This ultimatum was presented to Metaxas by Italy’s Ambassador to Greece, Emanuele Grazzi, shortly after 3am, who had just come from a party at the Athens-based German Embassy.
It demanded that Greece allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory and occupy certain unspecified “strategic locations” or otherwise face war.
It was allegedly answered with a single laconic word: όχι (No!). However, it is rumoured that his actual reply was, “Alors, c’est la guerre!” (Then it is war!).
In response to Metaxas’s refusal, Italian troops stationed in Albania, then an Italian protectorate, attacked the Greek border at 5:30am—the beginning of Greece’s participation in World War II.
In response Greek citizens took to the streets, irrespective of political affiliation, shouting “όχι! (No!)”.
MILITARY, STUDENT PARADES
From 1942, it was celebrated as ‘Oxi Day’ first mostly among members of the resistance and after the war by all Greeks.
During the war, October 28 was commemorated yearly by Greek communities around the world and in Greece and Cyprus, and after World War II it became a public holiday in both countries.
The events on that day are commemorated every year with military and student parades. On every anniversary, most public buildings and residences are decorated with Greek flags.